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Whole Foods Fires Employee for Nabbing Shoplifter


Staff going the extra mile? Fire 'em.


Who's dumber: A shoplifter who stuffed his backpack with food, or manager who fired the hard-working employee who attempted to stop the thief?

A story in the Ann Arbor News forces the gentle reader to ponder this cosmic question.

A man in his 20s entered the Whole Foods Market (WFMI) in the university town, filled a basket with food and then disappeared into a bathroom. When the entrepreneur emerged, the basket was empty, but his backpack bulged. Not content with making an oh-so-subtle statement against capitalism (or something), the man then filled up one of the store's canvas tote bags and walked out the front door.

John Schultz, an employee at the store, ran after the shoplifter. Schultz, the store manager and another employee cornered the thief in the parking lot and tried to apprehend him. Schultz, perhaps a victim of too much TV, announced that he was making a citizen's arrest. The shoplifter fled, but Schultz caught up to him, grabbed his jacket and put his leg behind the thief's legs in an apparent effort to restrain him.

The manager told Schultz to release the shoplifter; he complied. The baddie fled with the goods.

Schultz says he was fired because he violated company policy by touching a customer - and it makes no difference that the contact occurred outside the store, or in an effort to prevent theft.

This suggests that everyone, everywhere has their business model exactly tuchus-over-tea kettle.

  • Henceforth, retail outlets will encourage shoplifting. New rule: If you make it out the front door, it's yours. If not, you pay double.

  • Customer service? Bah! Tell your customers that they're fat, stupid and ugly. Furthermore, they must pay you a hefty fee for the privilege of hearing this vital information.

  • Empoyees showing up on time? Whistling while they work? Going out of their way to help? Grounds for immediate termination.

Okay, okay - a rule against touching customers makes sense. But Schultz didn't molest the shoplifter, or even punch him in the nose - he acted as a loyal employee and attempted to stop a theft.

Has the world become so lawyered-up that even the threat of a shoplifter filing suit trumps common sense?


The upside: The shoplifter won't be back - unless he's even dumber than whoever writes the rules at Whole Foods.

But short of an epiphany in the corner office, Schultz, 35, remains out of work.

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